Computing Services supports the campus network. Beginning summer 2011, Computing Services - working with the Office of Information Technology (Twin Citeis) - will upgrade the campus network. The most visible change will be a focus on wireless network access across campus, especially in the Student Center and Briggs Library. While traditional "wired" connections will still be available, moving to a more wireless network will make it easier to get connected wherever you are.
Since we're in "project mode", I'm hypersensitive to learning about wireless. Campus Technology has a great article with 8 Tips for Wireless in the Residence Halls that is a must-read. The article was written by Scott Merritt, IT director at Centenary College of Louisiana, so focuses on their recent network upgrade. I thought I'd pass along their tips:
Plan for now, and the future. Don't just create a network that fits your needs today. Make sure your new network can be expanded later to support connectivity needs you may not foresee today.
Balance in-sourcing and outsourcing options. For example, at Morris we are effectively "outsourcing" our network upgrade to NTS at the Twin Cities campus. Computing Services staff will be "hands and feet" in replacing equipment, but NTS will execute the upgrade and manage the network after installation.
Consider the cost. What's the most cost-effective way to deliver the new network to your campus?
Communicate with your stakeholders. Reach out to your constituents - students, faculty, staff - to make sure your new network will meet their needs. At Morris, I've met with many campus committees to talk about the coming network upgrade. I also sponsored "Big Block of Cheese Day" in fall, to talk about network and other issues.
Do your homework. Before any new network deployment can begin, you must do your research and conduct a comprehensive site survey. What equipment can be reused? What needs to be upgraded vs replaced?
Design your wifi with building architecture in mind. Many campus buildings are made with concrete and stone - both are very good at blocking wireless network signals.
Ensure optimum security. A common precaution is to separate the residential network from the administrative campus network. This helps to limit the spread of network viruses in the future.
Provide ongoing support. It's not just about the upgrade. You need to plan for future upgrades and maintenance, and build that into your "total cost of ownership" for the network.